Before Sullivan, P.j., Roberts And Waller, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Roberts, Justice
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/21/97
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. GLENN BARLOW
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 7/2/98
MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:
¶1. This case comes before this Court on appeal from the Jackson County Chancery Court. Shirley and Wallace Tillman were granted a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences. The lower court was left to decide the custody of a minor child, child support, the use, possession and ownership of the marital home, the division of the parties' personal property, division of assets and liabilities, lump sum and periodic alimony, attorney's fees and court costs. Shirley Tillman appeals the portion of the lower court ruling which denied her any interest in Wallace's pension fund.
¶2. Specifically, she raises the following issue:
I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION BY DENYING A SPOUSE ANY INTEREST IN THE OTHER SPOUSE'S PENSION PLAN ACCRUED SOLELY DURING THE MARRIAGE.
¶3. Prior decisions by this Court clearly recognize a spouse's pension fund obtained over the course of the marriage as a marital asset. However, because the overall ruling of the lower court left Shirley Tillman with a more than adequate equitable distribution of the marital estate, the lower court did not abuse its discretion by denying her any interest in the pension fund. Therefore, the lower court decision should be affirmed.
¶4. Wallace and Shirley Tillman were married on June 23, 1968, in Jackson County, Mississippi. The couple had three daughters and only one, Tracy, who was 17, was not emancipated at the time the parties separated. Wallace was 49 when the trial concluded. At the time of the trial, Wallace had been employed for 26 years, beginning in 1970, by International Paper Company. After holding various hourly-wage positions, Wallace was promoted to a salaried position in April of 1993. He later became process manager.
¶5. Wallace's financial declaration indicated a gross monthly income of $4,626.66 and an adjusted monthly income of $3,259.70. The financial declaration also indicated Wallace's monthly expenses were $4,011.14. These expenses included $950 per month to Shirley Tillman as temporary alimony and payment of her medical insurance, along with one-half of all medical expenses not covered by insurance. Also, Wallace was paying insurance in the amount of $162.50 per month on the three vehicles owned by the parties: a 1994 Buick Regal, owned by Shirley, Tracy's 1988 Pontiac Sunbird and Wallace's 1995 GMC Sonoma pickup. Wallace was also paying $200 per month on a $3,100 MasterCard bill. Wallace was paying $75 per month to Singing River Hospital because of $3,000 in medical bills incurred when he suffered a heart attack in February of 1996. He was paying $275 per month to the I.R.S. for underpayment of his 1995 federal income taxes by approximately $2,200. Wallace was paying $254.90 a month for the Sonoma pickup.
¶6. Shirley Tillman testified to being 48 years of age, a high school graduate and was enrolled part-time in community college at the time of trial. Although she was employed part-time doing catering work during the separation, Shirley had not been employed full-time since 1969. Shirley was pregnant at the time Wallace began working at ...